New “mapping revolution” coming?

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Every year a range of hopeful companies launch new products and solutions at the SXSW event in the US, hoping to be the next big thing.  Some successes have come from SXSW, for example, FourSquare.  We’ve been notified of a company who are planning to launch a new mapping solution (designed for mobile phones) that they say “will change the way you think about your location”.  We’ve not much information to go on at the moment (nor whether it will be a US-only service), and there’s a very good chance it will launch as a limited beta (although we understand there’s already an iPhone application due for release to coincide with the launch), but if it does release, and is worthy of further mention, then we’ll provide more information next week.

They provided an additional quote: “it is going to (hopefully) blow away all other mapping apps on your phone… particularly the ol’ google maps.”

Very interesting, and more news next week as it becomes available…


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Mobile Networks & Coming Soon Mobiles

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

It’s been a week of confirming mobile phones from the networks.  Vodafone have confirmed that they will be selling the Nokia E7 (although 3UK confirmed this a while ago, it’s now explicitly mentioned on the Vodafone website, as opposed to only being covered by the 3UK blog).

In other news, O2, Vodafone and 3UK have all confirmed they will be selling the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc as well, with two operators confirming they will be selling the Arc from April.


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Improvements to WikiReader

Friday, January 28th, 2011

I was impressed with the WikiReader when it was first released; a device with the ability to have an offline copy of the majority of Wikipedia loaded onto it, and available to access at any time. Well, the device has got better due to software updates. Now, not only can you get Wikipedia in a much wider choice of languages (about 18 when I last checked), the device has been updated to support other wiki sites too, including WikiQuote, Wiktionary and (just announced) WikiTravel, and you can also have the Project Gutenberg library of books (33,000 odd books!) on the device too.

When the device first shipped in 2009, it was with a 4GB SD Card, although if you are looking at adding multiple languages or the other wiki sites you’ll need an 8GB or 16GB card, and if you want to add Project Gutenberg too then it’s definitely a 16GB card that you’ll need. However, whereas before the update was simply a ZIP download, they have now developed their own update software (available in Windows or Max variants) which allows you to choose what you want to download.

This seems to make the device an ever more useful all round tool for reading up about the world; yes, for many of us we have access to all that data online whilst at home and visiting places, but for longer trips, or trips to more remote places (or even just abroad, given the continuation of high data roaming charges on mobile phones), I think the device has a use.

The device is available (for $99) direct from WikiReader, although I’m hearing they are working to setup a network of country based suppliers, so it’s possible that at some point you’ll be able to order in the UK and avoid customs fees and VAT on the import.  Also, when they launched they stated they would offer free updates online, and apart from the ever increasing memory card size requirements, they have live up to that claim, having released two updates during 2010 plus support for all the new wiki sites.


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Everything Everywhere to launch contactless payments via mobiles

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

Everything Everywhere (the name of the new merged Orange and T-Mobile companies) has announced that it is going to integrate contactless payments into mobile phones, and launch a payment service (in conjunction with Barclaycard) in Q2 2011.  Of late we’re heard that some mobile phone vendors are secretly (or openly) including NFC capabilities into new mobile phones, and it looks like EE plans to take advantage of these and allow the mobile phone NFC to be used for contactless payments.  This comes on the back of McDonald’s announcing it will be rolling out contactless payment support this year too.

It looks like 2011 may be the year that the idea of mobile phone payment systems truely take off.  The EE solution is being produced in conjunction with Gemalto, who will produce (presumably) new SIM cards with both the SIM and the payment capabilities on the same chip, allowing the phone to provide two functions.

Orange also stated they are planning an Orange Cash card, which will be a pre-paid contactless payment card.  In London, there has been a good take up of contactless payment machines, especially useful for sandwich shops; imagine having the ability to buy your lunch by simply waving your phone near the till! In terms of the current 40,000 machines, they are located at places such as EAT, Pret a Manger, Little Chef, and will soon roll out at Co-Op stores.  In fact, one of my local take-aways already supports contactless payments on their credit card machine, so I expect even more places to support it throughout 2011.

Having said that, there is one problem with the current implementation; in my local takeaway, having been told the amount to pay, I could happily insert my chip’n’pin credit card whilst they entered the amount and then I could enter my PIN; since they upgraded to the new machine, I have to wait until the amount has been entered and the machine will then and only then accept the credit card being inserted; so we’ll all have to get used to paying a bit more attention to the process.

This is the sort of integration UK Gadgeteer has always supported; bringing different technologies together to make a better experience.  More news later in the year as EE prepare to roll out the solution.

Picture courtesy of Orange UK.


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Map updates; who is cheaper?

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Garmin announced this week they are reducing the price of their map updates, and in the same week, TomTom announced that their latest map updates had been released, so who is actually cheaper; TomTom or Garmin?

Of course, the two companies charge differently, which makes it difficult to make a straight comparison, so let’s look at the options:

TomTom:

  • TomTom Map Update Service: £19.80 for 1 year (4 quarterly updates)

Garmin:

  • Garmin nuMaps Onetime: costs up to £49.99 (but covers the whole of Europe)
  • Garmin nuMaps Lifetime: £74.99 for the lifetime of the SatNav (under your ownership)

So, although TomTom appears to be cheaper, if you were to own the same SatNav unit for more than 4 years, then the Garmin lifetime option seems cheaper (and offers better value within 2 years compared to buying individually).  The key thing is that both companies offer services that allow you to keep your SatNav up to date with quarterly updates, covering the new roads as they release them into their maps.

Of course, let’s not discount other options; Nokia provide free map updates (although I never feel they are quarterly) for their Ovi Maps, which is free for many phones.  Of course, other mobile phones have SatNav options too, although it’s more difficult to confirm the price of map updates for them.

Prices are based on viewing both companies websites (and marketing material), and although we believe these prices are accurate, they may not apply to your SatNav, or may change over time.  Also, the TomTom prices do not appear to apply to all devices, and especially not their mobile phone / PDA products.


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Has your twitter app broken?

Monday, August 16th, 2010

Although it’s been delayed, today Twitter finally switch off the ability to use a username/password combination to access the Twitter API (used by many third party applications to access your twitter account).  Instead, a more secure system called OAuth must be used.  Now, many twitter clients have either moved to OAuth, or offer a choice of methods.

So, from today, the old method will no longer work; if your preferred twitter app has stopped working, first of all, check to see if there is an OAuth option, and if not, you might want to check for a software update to see if that resolves it.

Some apps will simply no longer work; fring have announced that in the short term their twitter addon for the Android version of fring will no longer work.

Of course, with many manufacturers building in twitter (and facebook) support into their phones, and many of those vendors being less helpful in providing any form of firmware update service, it’s possible your mobile phone app will no longer work either.

It’s not all doom and gloom though; when twitter were last planning this, I did a little research, and found that the majority of the mobile phones built in applications seemed to be using OAuth, and hence would not be affected.  Have you been affected? Has your preferred twitter client stopped working, and there’s no update? Let us know via the comments…

Screenshot of Gravity on Symbian courtesy of nokiaaddict.com (now gerrymoth.co.uk), and we should point out that Gravity has supported OAuth for some time, so as long as you are using a fairly up to date copy, you shouldn’t have any problems with Gravity.


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3 MiFi – Final Looks

Monday, August 9th, 2010

I’ve already covered many of the key benefits to the new 3 MiFi unit (in my first looks), although I will restate that it’s a joy to use now it’s a single power button to set everything up, and the wireless encryption key being only numbers makes it easier to quote to people to share the connection.  For the full review, click on the full article below.

(more…)


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Vodafone to charge for too much Internet usage

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Vodafone square logo

As you will know, we’ve been quite vocal in our beliefs about the use of the word “unlimited” in marketing and advertising especially when it comes to mobile phones, and will often tell you (wherever we can) what the actual limits are that are specified in the small print of the T&Cs. Well, it appears Vodafone is going further, and will start charging for usage over the limit, potentially from 1 June.

To be fair to Vodafone, there were one of the first networks to drop the words “Unlimited Internet”, and have for some while specified that their tariffs come with “500MB Internet”, but there was little that happened should you actually go over this limit.  If you were obviously abusing the connection, they had the right to cut you off, but did little else.  Now, however, they are going to start charging you £5 per additional 500MB (possibly in 500MB chunks; ie go 1Kb over the limit, and that will cost you £5, although that’s not yet fully clear).

In the same week that 3UK have dropped their “unlimited” internet from 1Gb to 500MB (and again, are clearly stating their charges for going over this limit), it seems that although more and more tariffs will come with that first 500MB for free, those using more than that need to be ready to pay for the privilege.


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Kin One & Two coming to the UK!

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Kin One and Kin Two

Quite often when new devices are released in the US, they never make it to the UK, or only make it a long time afterwards.  Today, Microsoft launched the Kin One and Kin Two, and I can confirm that Vodafone will be carrying at least one of the devices from this Autumn.  I’m not sure when they will be available in the US, but that doesn’t sound like a long wait after their US release.

The main feature of these Windows 7 Mobile phones is the homescreen contains what Microsoft are calling Loop; ie allowing you to be kept in the loop; social networking updates, website and other updates will appear on the homescreen.  These phones could be seen to be the latest generation of Sidekick devices (a company Microsoft bought), which were never heavily marketed in the UK, so it will be interesting to see how well Microsoft can make these devices appeal to their planned audience.

As you can see, both devices are QWERTY keyboard devices, with the Kin One having a squarer look to the device, and a 5 megapixel camera, whereas the Kin Two is a more traditional side slider with 8 megapixels, and twice the internal memory.  More news and specs as they become available, but for more (general) information, head over to the Kin website here.

I can see these devices being successful if there are priced correctly…


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Yahoo update their Upcoming mobile website

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Upcoming

Yahoo have updated their Upcoming mobile website to be much more feature rich than the previous version.  Although it provides an iPhone-like interfact, this still works well on multiple devices, and now provides much more user specific information.  If you are a regular Upcoming user, then head to m.upcoming.yahoo.com to access the new site.


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